St Columba's Catholic School (Frankton) - 26/06/2013

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

St Columba’s Catholic School is a state integrated full primary school in the western suburbs of Hamilton. It draws students from the local parish and surrounding areas. The roll has remained stable since the last ERO review in 2010. Currently, 446 students are enrolled, of whom 89 are identified as Māori. A feature of the school is the ethnic, cultural and language diversity of its student population. There have been few changes in staffing since the last review, and the same principal and senior managers continue to effectively lead the school.

The school’s mission and purpose have been reviewed and encapsulated in an impressive visual representation. At its centre are the core values of faith, love, care, respect and honesty. The vision of ‘walking in the footsteps of Jesus’, provides an overarching focus and is evident in all aspects of school operations. The school and wider parish communities are mutually supportive and well integrated, and are closely associated with the Diocese of Hamilton and other Catholic schools. In 2012, the new school hall, Te Manawa, was opened.

The board of trustees and school leaders responded positively to the recommendation of the last ERO report to review provisions for cultural diversity. An active focus group of staff, supported by trustees, has initiated meetings with different cultural groups and facilitated cultural events. Following an analysis of achievement information, school leaders recognised the need for a focus on teaching and learning in writing. Teachers have been involved in sustained professional development to raise student achievement, particularly in this curriculum area.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

The school makes effective use of an extensive range of student achievement information to guide decision making at all levels. Teachers use this information to respond to students’ identified learning needs, refer students who require support or extension in their learning, and to share progress and achievement with parents. Team leaders, in consultation with senior managers, develop and monitor progress goals for target groups of students. The principal provides trustees with regular and detailed reports on the overall achievement for groups of students, and these are used to inform the allocation of resources and identify strategic goals.

The proportion of students, including Māori, achieving at or above National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics, compares favourably with national data. School data indicates that a high proportion of targeted students make accelerated progress towards reaching anticipated levels of achievement. Students for whom English is a second language are well supported by effective programmes enabling them to successfully access the curriculum.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school’s holistic curriculum, underpinned by its special Catholic character, effectively promotes and supports student learning and development. There are high levels of student engagement in learning activities, and a willingness and confidence to contribute to discussions and experiences. Mutually respectful relationships are evident and contribute to settled and purposeful classrooms.

Students experience classroom programmes that are thoroughly planned by teachers working in collaborative teams. Teachers are beginning to use a concept learning approach that gives emphasis to transferable learning and student inquiry into issues or questions. The senior curriculum is extended through group rotations in arts, technology, languages and information and communication technologies (ICT). Classrooms are well resourced and students’ work is displayed to celebrate achievement.

Student learning experiences are enriched by:

  • special character celebrations and liturgies
  • education outside the classroom and marae visits
  • sports and cultural events
  • special Year 8 programmes for boys (Nga Tama Toa) and girls (Girls Have Destiny)
  • leadership and service opportunities, especially for older students.

Teachers maintain extensive records of students’ achievement and these are shared with parents in formal learning discussions and through written reports. A recent innovation has been student-led conferences where learning is shared and progress explained. School leaders and staff have identified the need to strengthen student ownership of their learning with a refocus on formative assessment in classrooms.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

Spiritual aspects of the Catholic special character provide a sense of identity and wellbeing for Māori students. The board and school leaders have developed and begun to implement a detailed action plan to support Māori student success. The intentions are to raise the profile of tikanga and te reo Māori, and more actively engage whānau and iwi in the school. The school should also document expectations and indicators for effective bicultural practice to support the sustainability of their objectives.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance. Supporting factors are:

  • effective governance by trustees who are strongly committed to the school’s special character and successful outcomes for students
  • strongly collaborative leadership by the respected principal, who has a clear sense of positive purpose and direction, which is valued by the school community
  • holistic education and effective pastoral care provided by teachers and the leadership team who demonstrate high levels of dedication to students and their families
  • high levels of support between the school, families and the wider community
  • a school culture that promotes a sense of belonging, wellbeing and a commitment to service among students and staff.

The school leaders and ERO agree that the next steps in school development are to strengthen important aspects of self review against intended outcomes. Areas for consideration include:

  • strategic planning to more clearly identify the areas for positive change and development
  • strengthening feedback to teachers against agreed development goals, and providing constructive guidance for further improvement of professional practice
  • evaluating initiatives and programmes to determine their effectiveness and sustainability, and to better inform ongoing decision making.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

26 June 2013

About the School



Ministry of Education profile number


School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll


Gender composition

Girls 52%

Boys 48%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā










Review team on site

May 2013

Date of this report

26 June 2013

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

September 2010

January 2008

November 2004